I’m still learning how to get LaTeX to work on Overleaf

My energy and efforts have been focused on producing high quality academic content since July 21. Instead of blogging away I focused on that introduction to machine learning syllabus I have been preparing. I’m even doing the typesetting in LaTeX using the Overleaf website in preparation to be a better academic. It seemed like a good idea to learn how to publish academic papers using LaTeX. Generally, I have been able to get away with using Microsoft Word to prepare things or sometimes Google Docs. It seems the world has changed and the serious people writing serious papers are all using LaTeX these days. It took me about an hour, maybe two hours to start getting the hang of it and I don’t really like it at all. It’s a clumsy method for typesetting and while I get that the focus is on the end product and how it looks as a PDF the actual process of typesetting is tedious. My basis of comparison is that I can very easily write in APA formatting in Microsoft Word and work from start to finish on a document. It’s fine really as a platform for documenting words and processing them. I get that the idea of LaTeX and the storage of documents in PDF format is to ensure that the documents are portable and readable for as long as possible. Anyway, I’m still learning how to get LaTeX to work on Overleaf. I have the first 3 parts of that syllabus loaded up and I’ll get adding part by part until all 8 are loaded. I’ll give it a really good proofreading and then try to submit it for preprint. That is the plan anyway.

Latest paper research notes

Over the last few days, I have been looking at sketches of the healthcare landscape in the United States. My research is strictly limited to that universe of care at the moment. Maybe later I could do some comparative analysis, but at the moment a limited universe is necessary to make progress on this initial research effort. I have a very large Moleskine sketchbook that has A3 size pages. Which for those of you who do not know happens to be 11.75 inches by 16.5 inches. That gives me plenty of space to sketch out ideas. At the moment, I have been working on three different sketches that will be converted from sketch to slide at some point. That effort includes mapping the healthcare space, plotting the next 5 years, and a sketch of where ML will be in that 5 year mapping of healthcare. My initial analysis showed a bunch of different ways to look at things. It feels like the overall ecosystem is being pushed from a lot of directions instead of being driven organically into a cohesive mesh.

Horizons vs. edges

Today could be a day of deep focus on things just down the road a little bit. Pondering that perfect possible future is always near the edge of my thoughts, but today for some reason I’m not trying to look just past the edge of what is possible. At the moment, I’m just looking at the horizon and my focus is not just beyond it at the moment. Maybe my two shots of Nespresso have not kicked all the way in or it is going to be one of those days where questions outpace whimsy. Anyway that pretty much sums up where my thoughts are at the moment. My talks as a speaker are generally lined up for the year. I’m doing weekly research for The Lindahl Letter into machine learning and at some point I’m going to spend some time working on traditional academic papers. 

One of the deeper questions about my academic trajectory has been about really focusing on churning out academic papers and putting all of my focus on that path toward journal articles or continuing down the more general road of writing. It’s a real conundrum and for the most part I have let the wind take me in the direction of my greatest interest for the last 10 years. That direction has been toward the path of doing and being closer to the pracademic side of things than the traditional academic way of muddling through. Now that my experiences are stacking up in a positive direction it might be time to work on that balance and figure out somewhere in the middle to exist. From everything I can tell right now the academic world is facing a real overwhelming supply surge in content creation that is not resulting in the type of synthesis that translates and summarizes the overall fields. Driving complexity into specializations has made the depth part of the equation so overwhelming that any attempt at pure breath in a field fails for one person to handle.

The reflective Wednesday conjecture

Today was going to be one of those days that builds up and then drifts away. Maybe that is my fault. Every day you have the chance to seize the day and make something special happen. One of the things that I really enjoy about attending conferences and learning new things is that it creates the potential for a spark of invocation. Maybe that means pulling two things together or maybe making something out of nothing based on the spark of innovation. It is one of those things that when you see it you know it and it can slip away so quickly. Some days are just like that and you can make things happen that would otherwise take a long time. It is those moments of clarity that you cannot waste. You have to treat them like the precious opportunity they are to move things forward.

Today my Google Pixelbook Go Chromebook actually paired to my Pixel 4 XL smartphone to get mobile data without any problems. That was nice. Where I am sitting right now does not have any really solid WiFi options. During the course of writing I do not need to use very much bandwidth to access the internet, but it is nice to have the option. Typically, I find not having access to the internet slows me down. It is probably just one of those things I need to work on moving past at some point. Earlier today I was thinking about a bunch of different academic paper topics. Sometimes it is easier than others to put the drafts together. I used to keep an idea notebook that helped push my research interests forward. Maybe it is time to bring that back. My overall publishing productivity has been down in the last 5 years. The only way to really work on fixing that is to actively write papers. Part of that is working literature reviews and the other part of it is completing research projects.

My automated survey technology was ready and running for years. Maybe now is the time to turn that setup back on and pull together the data necessary to create a few research papers. This time around I could just share the code on GitHub and allow others to make the data collection magic happen. That is probably the right way to go about things. The only drawback for reproducibility is that the code would have to run on some server, but people have a lot more ways to get a server these days. Maybe that is something that I will start working on later this week. I’m still trying to finish up that “Google IT Automation with Python” course series. It has taken a little longer than I had expected. I’m probably going to have to focus in on knocking out part of it every night for the next 20 days to really finish it up. That has to happen in tandem with my efforts to create a new speaking presentation that focuses on walking some machine learning use case ROI example from start to finish.

It seems like a few things are stacking up. Normally, I like to work in real time and finish anything that pops up with extreme alacrity. From time to time that is not possible. The things that need to be done are bigger than the slices of time that I have to complete tasks. Like right now that course is eating up a lot of cycles of time that could be used to do some other things, but learning and pushing things forward is an important part of the process. Being a lifelong learner is a commitment that requires both time and effort to make happen. It would be easier to stop taking on hard challenges, but that would not be the right thing to do.